“We just wanna play love songs for the nice people,” claim the Wisconsin pop-punks. That, and break into your house while you’re not home and take all your beer and cheese…
BY JOHN B. MOORE
If The Ramones and The Beach Boys were locked up in a high security prison with nothing to do but harmonize, write love songs and plan their escape, they would sound exactly like Masked Intruder.
The pop-punk ex-cons from Madison, WI, each sporting a different color ski mask ‘cos, well, figure it out yourself (I ain’t no snitch!), have just turned in M.I., their second full length; a brilliant collection of odes to unrequited love and crime sprees.
Though the origin story behind the group is murky, we got Intruder Blue (he’s the one in the blue mask, in case you were wondering) to answer a handful of questions via e-mail recently. He powered up a stolen lap top and covered everything from Pussy Riot sharing their love of anonymity to crossing borders with an arrest record.
BLURT: How did you guys come together? Your bio says you are all from the Midwest, but there definitely seems to be a strong Jersey accent in a lot of the vocals.
INTRUDER BLUE: It’s not a Jersey accent. Lots of people make that mistake. Our accent is actually from prison, which is where we met each other and honed our pop-punk crooning skills. After we, uh… were released, we moved to the Midwest ‘cause that seemed to make sense to us for some reason at the time. In retrospect we probably shoulda gone to Montana or something, since nobody lives there and so there are almost no cops. We are currently based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Lovely town. Do you realize how delicious beer and cheese are? People just keep that stuff in their houses here. And they hardly even lock their doors!
You guys recorded with Matt Allison again for this one. Did you have a decent rapport having already worked together in the past?
Absolutely. We entered into the process as friends. We knew what we could expect from each other and how to push each other to do our best. You just can’t beat that kinda chemistry when you’re cutting a record. It’s a lot of work, and if you want to get something really good out of the process, you have to know what you are going for and how to get there. We definitely had that going for us as we entered into the making of this record, and we worked like dogs to make it the best thing we could possibly make. We’re stoked on it. Matt is too.
What’s tougher, being in prison or being a touring indie punk band?
I mean, prison for sure. Some indie bands do pretty well with the ladies. In prison, you pretty much don’t get to make out with ladies ever, under any circumstances, no matter how deep your lyrics are. So, if you like the ladies, I would go band over prison any day. Now, on the other hand, if you are more into hanging out with dudes, making tooth brushes into makeshift knives, impromptu pillow fights and the occasional riot, prison may be for you. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.
Who in the band has the longer rap sheet?
Probably Red. This one time, he was arrested for stealing the same motorcycle three times in one week. It was all a simple misunderstanding… The dude that owned it didn’t understand how much Red wanted it, and the cops didn’t understand how to stay out of it and mind their own business.
Seems like the ladies in Pussy Riot have copped your look or was it the other way around? Who wore the hats/masks first?
We actually started before Pussy Riot, but I doubt they were trying to copy us. They probably hadn’t even heard of us ‘cause our demo had only been out for about six months at the time they started. I guess it is possible, though, cause of the Internet and stuff like that. But, who knows. The thing is, we don’t have that much in common with them. I mean, they’re political, we’re not. They’re girls, we’re not. They have the word “pussy” in their name, we don’t. They’re Russian, we’re American. They’re a very serious, very important movement. We just wanna play love songs for the nice people. They’re cool by us, though. For the record, we would make out with them anytime, anywhere.
You guys have plans to hit up Europe, Australia and much of the U.S. this year. What’s the best and worst thing about touring?
The best thing about touring is all the cool people you get to meet and hang out with. We’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of the musicians and criminals that we looked up to as kids and that we really respect. Also, another cool thing about tour: you get to eat a lot of snacks. The four tour food groups are Doritos, Cheetos, burritos and beer. The worst part is probably just the whole thing of having to look over your shoulder for the cops. But, that’s no different really than being home. So, there’s no real drawback. I guess that’s why we tour all the time. It’s awesome!
Given that you travel across borders with suitcases packed with four ski masks, do you ever have problems with the folks at customs?
Never been a problem. Here’s a little tip for getting through customs: sneak in. It’s not as hard as you think, seeing as how there are so many people going through every day. Plus, most of the people that work in customs are just bored out of their minds and don’t even care about their jobs. They basically want you to try and sneak something past them, even if they don’t know it. Just like prison guards. Sure, they pretend not to want to have to get into a tussle, but they love an opportunity to take their nightstick to some poor shlub’s dome piece. So, yeah, you gotta sneak in places. Trust me, it’s more fun than trying to get through by the book.
What’s next for the band?
We have a ton of tour dates in the US, Canada, the UK and mainland Europe. So, we will be pretty busy for a while making sure everybody gets a chance to see us. After that, who knows? I mean, we do, but we aren’t saying. Snitches get stitches.